Before gaining notoriety as the executive chair of the alt-right website Breitbart News, President Donald Trump's Chief Advisor Steve Bannon once tried his hand at playwriting. And thanks to NowThis, you can hear Bannon's take on Shakespeare's Coriolanus, turned into a rap musical.
NowThis recently brought former 'Daily Show' correspondent Rob Corddry and a troop of stage actors together for a table reading of the script, which is set during the 1992 Los Angeles Riots that followed the acquittal of L.A. police officers involved in the beating of Rodney King - a black man whose brutal arrest in 1991 became a flashpoint for racial tension in America.
The setting and genre aren't exactly what you'd expect from Bannon, who has the racial sensitivity of an over-starched Klan hood. After all, he presided over Breitbart when the alt-right screed published stories proclaiming the "glorious heritage" of the Confederate flag, denounced the Black Lives Matter movement for allegedly inciting violence, and claimed that black people in America were more privileged than whites. (You can read summaries of those incendiary articles here.)
But back in the late 1990s, Bannon wanted to help people understand what was going on in the streets of L.A. So he and screenwriter Julia Jones co-wrote the musical adaptation of Shakespeare's tragedy in hopes that it would speak to the people involved in the violence as well as shocked onlookers. However, the results amounted to little more than white-splaining a complex issue, according to the NowThis cast.
"I think [Bannon] thought he had a greater understanding than the people who were going through what they were going through," Gary Anthony Williams - who plays Coriolanus in the NowThis reading - told The Washington Post earlier this week.
"Now, whether he had the tools to do that or not is open to everyone's interpretation. My answer would be no, spelled in pretty large letters, with a very curly font. … Again, I think Steve Bannon thought he had figured out black people, much in the way of Trump: 'Carnage! Chicago is carnage! … American carnage! That I have the answer. That if you could listen to me, this can fix that.' "
But see for yourself in the clip below, which includes actors reading cringe-worthy lines like, "Bitch, please. It [bleeding] becomes a man. Breasts nursing look no lovelier than when a forehead spits forth blood on them."
Afterward, if you want to read a play that really nails the racial tensions of that period, check out 'Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992' by writer and professor Anna Deavere Smith.
Banner image: youtube.com